Saturday, November 16, 2019
US flag

Sotomayor calls for better civics ed

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was in Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday, talking with teachers, law professors, and fellow judges about how important it is to teach kids to engage with government, the Seattle Times reports.

Sotomayor, 2012 (UDC David A Clarke School of Law / Flickr CC)

Her remarks echo the sentiments of Chris Reykdal, who was a social studies teacher before getting elected to the state’s General Assembly and, in 2016, to Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

She reportedly spoke “with deep feeling” about immigrants—Ms Sotomayor is the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice. However, she stopped short of making any overtly political statements, but added that bulking up civics education is more important today than it has ever been. “You have to be taught what that means,” to be a citizen, she was quoted as saying. “If you teach people that they can make a difference, they will go out there and try.”

Mr Reykdal used the occasion to promote legislation now under consideration in the state that would create a statewide Civic Learning Initiative in partnership with the nonprofit Council on Public Legal Education:

  • three branches of government
  • the US system of checks and balance
  • the path a bill takes to become law

A recent survey found that only 26 percent of adults in the US could identify the three branches of the federal government. Ms Sotomayor and Mr Reykdal are hoping the new initiative and the iCivics website and computer games will improve that situation.

“Every computer scientist still needs to be engaged in their community,” the Times quoted Mr Reykdal as saying.

The iCivics program was started by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2009. It presents students a series of games, including ones like “Do I have a right?” that simulate participation in government. In one scenario, players are running a virtual law firm and have to evaluate potential clients to determine if their constitutional rights have been violated.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.

Loan forgiveness gains some bipartisan support

One Republican from GA, who used to work under Betsy DeVos at the US Education Dept, offers a plan to forgive some student loan debt.

A band teacher is IL Teacher of the Year

IL named a band teacher the 2020 Teacher of the Year on Oct. 19. He individualizes music instruction and shares his work with 1000s.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ bookends Halloween

Several high schools have decided to add a little spook to their musical stages in this season of Halloween. Music makes it happen.

New IL law ensures inclusion of LGBTQ+

A law will take effect next school year in IL that will require students to study LGBTQ history as part of the social studies curriculum.

MoCo doubles down on summer learning loss

Research is at least equivocal about summer learning loss, but maybe there's something to a new plan in Montgomery County, Md.

Downers North lights up the gym for Beth

Ongoing fundraising drives for a Downers Grove N. volleyball player killed by an intoxicated driver in Feb. are going strong in this western suburb.

High-payroll Yankees don’t make World Series

The World Series begins Tuesday, but some of the playoff games can teach us valuable things about youth sports, investment, etc.